Karen's Body Beautiful: Myrtle

When I first moved to the Hill, Karen's Body Beautiful resided in a tiny storefront on Clinton Avenue north of Myrtle. I was thrilled to see her move to an exponentially larger site on Myrtle earlier this year -- the store is spacious, peaceful and warm, and really makes sense on our ever-changing Myrtle Ave. The absolute coolest thing about Karen's store is the fact that she creates ALL of her products right there, on-site! A modern kitchen sits directly behind the front counter, allowing shoppers to watch her work her magic.

Getting to know Karen:

When did the store first open? I know it was originally in a different location. We opened the first store in February 2004 and the current location (our expansion) in Feb 2006.

How did you learn to make your own beauty products? My friends and I tried it once, and nothing turned out correctly. My husband and I spent our 2003 summer vacation (from teaching High School History) learning how to make personal care products. We bought books and ingredients and did lots of experimentation. We signed the lease on our original location on Clinton Ave in November 2003. Since we were still teaching at the time it took us 2 months to make enough products to stock the store and we opened in Feb 2004. It was very exciting because we taught at the same school in the history department, we would come home make shower gel, shampoos, body butters, etc. and drive them over to the store every day. Out of the experience making the products off site (at home) and hauling them to the store did we decided that it would be wonderful to put the kitchen in the store to streamline our production and we thought the customers would get kick out of actually seeing the products being made.

Do you live in the neighborhood? If so, how long have you been here? I live in Bed-Stuy. I've lived there for 2 years.

What have been some of the challenges in owning your own business in Brooklyn? On of the challenges is maintaining a daily production schedule to keep up the our internet and in store demands. Since we make all of our products from scratch in the store we have to be open daily making products in order to fill internet orders and keep the store stocked. It takes alot of work and time to hand-make and package thousands of soaps, lotions, candles, etc.

Favorite place to eat in the neighborhood: My favorite place to eat is ABistro* on Carlton and Myrtle. The Senegalese Fried Chicken and French Toast (on Sunday Brunch) are FABULOUS!

What would you love to see open in Clinton Hill? There are sooo many things Myrtle Ave needs! A few more restaurants (including a vegetarian one) and bars are necessary to generate more foot traffic to support businesses like a butcher shop, flower shop, clothing stores, gourmet fruit and vegetable grocery store and bakery.

Any insider info on what else will be opening on Myrtle? A new hair salon that caters to white hair will be opening soon on Myrtle between Waverly and Washington. I also know that several flower shops and a butcher are very interested in opening on Myrtle.

I see the shop is quite roomy. Do you ever offer classes, seminars or events? We have KBB Spa Days where a masseuse and an esthetician come in to do spa treatments, birthday parties, and seminars on health and beauty.

What's your most popular product? Our Body Scrubs are most popular. They are very moisturizing, they exfoliate, soften and leave you with brand new skin.

If you were a flavor of ice cream, what flavor would you be and why? Hmmm... I dont eat ice cream any more, but my favorite dessert is a mango, pineapple and strawberry home-made smoothie sweetened with agave and stevia with a dash of lemon essential oil.

KAREN'S BODY BEAUTIFUL 436 Myrtle Avenue Between Clinton Avenue & Waverly Avenue Tel: (718) 797-4808 Hours: M-Sa 12p-8p; Su 12p-5p

* When ABistro first opened, I visited several times and absolutely loved it! The service and food were both top notch. For some reason, I haven't been in awhile. Thanks, Karen, for reminding me!!